Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jessica. Jessica Wonders, “Who was Lionel Messi?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jessica!

Do you tune in for the World Cup every four years? Do you dream of completing a hat trick in front of thousands of fans? Maybe you pull on your favorite jersey and cheer for your team to win a match every weekend. If so, it sounds like you’re a big fan of the world’s most popular sport—football!

Of course, if you live in the United States, you might call it “soccer.” Either way, billions of people around the world are fans of this sport. If you’re one of them, you’ve definitely heard of the athlete we’re talking about today. His name is Lionel Messi.

Who is Lionel Messi? Before he became one of the world’s greatest athletes, he was just a kid who loved to play soccer with his brothers and friends. He was born in 1987 and grew up in Rosario, Argentina.

As a kid, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency (GHD). This is a rare condition in which the body doesn’t produce expected amounts of growth hormone. It can cause developmental delays and symptoms like fatigue. Often, people with GHD are shorter than average and have a hard time building muscle.

Messi began receiving treatment for GHD, but it quickly became very expensive. At age 13, his skills on the soccer field resulted in an offer to train at La Masia. That’s the youth academy of Football Club (FC) Barcelona. As part of this offer, the team would also cover Messi’s GHD treatments. 

The Messi family relocated to Spain, where the young athlete quickly made a name for himself. His first official match as part of FC Barcelona’s first team came in 2004. Messi was only 17 years old. By 2008, he was the team’s top player.

Today, many people say Messi is the greatest football player in the world. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has given him the Ballon d’Or award six times. He’s also the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer and won FIFA’s The Best award in 2019. 

Currently, Messi still plays for FC Barcelona. Off the field, he is a husband and father of three. He also founded the Leo Messi Foundation in 2007. This is a nonprofit organization. It supports programs bringing education, clean water, and health care to children around the world. 

Where will Lionel Messi go from here? His status as a world-class athlete and philanthropist could take him anywhere. Stay tuned to find out how this star writes the rest of his story!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1,CCRA.W.2, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2,

Wonder What's Next?

Is tomorrow's Wonder of the Day ALIVE? You tell us!